Sunday, June 04, 2006

In which Marc Jacobs incites drunken political rantings

((Note: Names changed in this story.))

The very first day it opened, the Marc Jacobs store on the corner of Fillmore and Sacramento featured twenty-five mannequins in their storefront window, all dressed in t-shirts and red, white, and blue briefs. They stood behind an enormous American flag with the letters on their shirts spelling out “MARC JACOBS SAN FRANCISCO”.

And then, a tiny little sign down at their feet: “Although we don’t like our president, we still love our country!”

It was something you could only pull off in a place like San Francisco, or Berkeley. For weeks, the storefront – once an upscale designer furniture store – was covered in black plywood sheets, frustrating curious passers-by. What was going on in there? Who’s moving into that space? And why is everything blocked off? And when the covers came off, there it was: outlandishly bad taste that suddenly became hip and stylish. You couldn’t do that with Dockers.

Weeks passed. And then a few nights ago, I was walking back from the fundraising celebration bash with a couple fellow students,we passed by the store again. This time, the flag was taken down. And the mannequins stood behind letters six feet tall that said “WORST PRESIDENT EVER”.

I got a good laugh out of it, but Mark didn’t think so. “That’s treason!,” he said. “This is really pissing me off. I gotta go bomb this place or something.”

Treason? Are you kidding me? Hasn’t he ever heard of Benedict Arnold, Hans Max Haupt, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg? How about the CIA officers who were double agents, selling secrets and exposing their colleagues to the KGB? That pissed me off, and I had to say something.

“Are you kidding me? That’s patriotic dissent. Are you saying that if you disagree with the president or just give your opinion you’re a traitor? Dude, if no one ever spoke out against anyone in power, you wouldn’t even have this country – hell, you wouldn’t even have democracy. That's what the founding fathers did.”

It didn't take much to hear the contempt in his voice. “Yeah, well, once you start collecting a paycheck, you’ll be a Republican.”

I had heard this line before -- the last resort of an ideologue full of himself, attempting to write me off as too young and idealistic. I thought to myself, What the fuck. He's my age, maybe a year younger. Who the fuck is this guy? It pissed me off before, and it pissed me off again. I wasn't going to take this lying down, especially from a drunk, self-centered asshole like himself.

“Fuck you!" I said. "I’ve collected paychecks before, man. And I’m STILL a Democrat.”

“Well, once you start collecting a DENTIST-sized paycheck, you’ll be a Republican.”

I started to get REALLY pissed off, but the calmer half of me told me not to pursue it further. So, I laughed it off. It was probably the best thing to do; I think if we had continued along that path, it would've lead to a pretty nasty fistfight.

Still, that brief, alcohol-fueled conversation helped me realize that most people really don’t want democracy. They want dominion. They want strength and power. They want egalitarianism so long as it levels the playing field so that they can boost themselves to new heights. You have to seriously question the purported democratic ideals of someone who wants to shut up everyone who disagrees with him, without discussing the issues like rational, mature adults.

Seriously, did this guy ever think about what or where his tax money goes to? Or how the government is run? Did someone sleep through fifth-grade civics class?


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